I am very proud of these bills, which I introduced and were passed:
- House Bill No. 5174 SUB A – Provides a definition of the recognizable high tide line for the public’s rights and privileges of the shore.
- House Bill No. 5185 – Requires police officers commission on standards and training to provide training and instructions for officers and trainees to more accurately identify complaints involving persons with cognitive or communication-related disabilities.
- House Bill No. 5668 – Would require public school districts to take certain actions to promote notice and disseminate information regarding the district’s special education local advisory committee.
Other Rhode Island 2023 Legislative Session Highlights Include:
- To relieve an administrative burden for small businesses and municipalities, the state budget includes a $50,000 exemption for all businesses subject to the tangible tax, eliminating the tax completely for 75% of Rhode Island businesses.
- The budget set aside $55 million for a ‘rainy day fund’ to better position Rhode Island to weather economic downturns.
- Suspended the collection of the gross receipts tax on electricity and natural gas billed to consumers next winter, for a total of $35 million in relief to households and businesses.
- The legislature created the Hope Scholarship Pilot Program to provide the cost of two years of tuition and mandatory fees for eligible students during their junior and senior years at Rhode Island College.
- The budget stabilizes the Workers’ Compensation Fund with $4 million to prevent an increase in the premiums paid by Rhode Island businesses.
- The budget includes $20 million from State Fiscal Recovery funds for a matching grant program that will help cities and towns fund local road, bridge, and sidewalk repairs. It also leverages $87.8 million in state funding to unlock additional federal road and bridge funding.
- The budget distributes retired public employees’ cost-of-living adjustments annually instead of in larger lump sums once every four years.
- Lawmakers banned private insurance companies from discriminating against seniors with pre-existing conditions shopping for Medicare Advantage plans.
- The state legislature amended the Lead Poisoning Prevention Act to create a lead water supply replacement program for all service lines, with a requirement that all affected lines are replaced within ten years.
The General Assembly passed four bills to reduce childhood lead poisoning by ensuring landlords comply with lead-safety laws.
- Lawmakers banned restaurants from using polystyrene foam, commonly called Styrofoam, for food packaging or preparation.
- Passed a comprehensive plan for the future of solar in Rhode Island to expand solar development while protecting forests, creating well-paying jobs, and stabilizing costs for ratepayers.
- The General Assembly approved more than a dozen pieces of housing legislation to address the housing crisis. Many of the bills are aimed at speeding housing production by streamlining and removing roadblocks in permitting processes.
- The legislature made it easier to convert commercial structures such as hospitals or mills into housing.
- Lawmakers included an additional $39 million to support housing development, including funds for transit development and to support infrastructure such as road and utility connections.
- Passed legislation to enact many of the consumer-protection elements of the federal Affordable Care Act into state law, providing Rhode Islanders with permanent protections, even if the federal law is ever weakened or repealed.
- The Assembly approved legislation to better align projects so that roadways across Rhode Island aren’t dug up multiple times by requiring utilities to coordinate with the Rhode Island Department of Transportation to develop a comprehensive plan to align planned state and utility projects.
- Rhode Island established “Juneteenth National Freedom Day” as a state holiday that will be held annually on June 19, beginning in 2024.